Is Gavin Newsom planning to appoint himself to the U.S. Senate? Dan Walters writes this might be his plan, as Kamala Harris auditions for VP. And my bill to stop him was just killed by the Governor’s allies.
In many states, the resignation of a U.S. Senator triggers an election. But in California, the Governor gets to appoint a new Senator of his choice. Illinois has a similar arrangement, and when the now-imprisoned Rod Blagojevich got to appoint a replacement for Barack Obama, he auctioned off the seat, saying “I’ve got this thing and it’s f***ing golden.”
Other Governors have appointed their spouses, their children, and on nine separate occasions… themselves. After Lisa Murkowksi was given a Senate seat by her father, Alaska voters passed an initiative to do away with appointments, though Murkowski remains in the Senate to this day.
I authored similar legislation, AB 2194, to assure our Senators are always chosen by California voters. It’s an idea that’s received bipartisan support in Congress, with the New York Times editorializing that “filling vacant Senate seats through elections would replace high-level deal-making and arbitrary exercises of authority with democracy.”
But in the California Legislature, which gets more undemocratic every year, my bill was killed on a party-line vote in 2018. This year, it was denied a hearing altogether.
U.S. Senators are our ambassadors to the United States government. We only get two of them, they can serve for decades, and their influence on our state and country can be immense. If Gavin Newsom chooses our next Senator – whether claiming the seat himself or giving it to a political ally – California voters will be disenfranchised in a profound way.
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